Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Baked Coley with Parma Ham

For the more avid reader....this dish actually was made last year but was somehow relegated and I stumbled across it lurking in the bottom of my word document for unfinished blog posts! Now its starting to get more summery, I am thinking more summery food and I remembered how easy, and delicious this dish was! Perfect for an easy summer nights meal! I think the night it was made, we had been for a long, leisurely walk around the grounds of nearby parkland and moaning about the inevitable midges and bugs of balmy evenings!

Blogging has been tough this past month, I have been purposely neglecting my internet presence, and trying to reconnect with real life in a hope to understand why I go through such bad bouts of low mood etc...making sure I am not just using the blog etc as escapism... that combined with deciding to come off virtually all my prescription meds and recovering from my mangled index finger has almost driven me to the edge of giving up the blog. The dressing is finally off, though I have numbness and a fear every time I pick up my chef's knife! Giving up though is not an easy decision, after over 8 years of doing it! I love blogging, connecting with others but sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with it all, all the talk of PA, DA, SEO etc just phases me to the point of erm, should I retire?! Anyway, do please bear with my wobbly moments!

This dish is so easy it takes moments to throw together, and looks like you have made a bit of an effort! We originally had this with creamed spinach and jacket potato mash - can't go wrong really with its accompaniments but something green always complements fish very well!

Serves 2

2 Coley fillets
4 slices parma ham
6 halved cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp grated parmesan
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Line a baking tray with foil and grease lightly. Pre-heat oven to 200o

Wrap the parma ham around the coley fillets, tucking the seam underneath. Place in the baking tray,  season with salt and pepper, then scatter over the tomatoes and the parmesan. Drizzle with a little oil and bake for roughly 18-20 minutes, or until the fish has cooked through.

The flavours work so well together, Coley is a fairly light, inoffensive tastying fish and the Parma ham gives it a lovely, slightly salty tasting boost!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Cheesy Sausage and Spaghetti Hoop Bake

Many apologies for the tumbleweed gathering on my blog of late! Its been a funny few months, with family being poorly I have been prioritising my time, also I've been spending time focusing also on me, following my pain management program I've found myself questioning a lot of what I do, how and why.... Plus I decided I'd had enough of the side effects for one of the meds for my Fibromyalgia and I have been weaning down slowly, which apart the current insomnia phase its been overall worthwhile!

Also managing to slice through my left index finger 3 weeks ago really has not helped with blogging in general! Typing's a nightmare, yet alone cooking and pretty much all my meal planning went out of the window and whilst there has been some pretty decent meals...they have been few and far between! On the plus side we have been busy perfecting making calamari!

Pasta bakes are one of my go to dishes - it feeds us for days and I had made this dish at the beginning of March we had family over, and it also gave us lovely leftovers too! Pasta hoops or as they are better known - spaghetti hoops - are one of my favourite pasta shapes and writing this now reminds me I must pick some up some more next time I am in town! This is by all means not my first dish with hoops - you can see here my other Spicy Toasted Cauliflower Spaghetti Hoops.

Its a bit of a naughty ingredient but I used Garlic Sausage in this, which I get in the Polish aisle - its garlicky but without being over powering and it keeps for ages before being opened, so I often keep a pack or two stashed away in the fridge for impromptu dinners! I also used some ready diced onion, its super lazy but when tight for time its a handy cheat! You might also spot there is no thickening agent - however 'loose' it might look let the oven do its magic- the al dente pasta will soon devour any excess!

Sizing wise - I used my large rectangular traybake tin for this- which worked perfectly and roughly feeds 6 to 8 people, depending on your appetites of course!


300g pasta hoops, boiled as per packet instructions, until al dente
2 sticks of finely chopped celery
200g garlic sausage, chopped into 1/2 cm chunks
1 red pepper, diced
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
400ml light vegetable stock
200ml milk
1 heaped tbsp rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
100g grated extra mature cheddae
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil


1) Heat the oil in a large saute pan, fry the onion gently then add the celery and pepper, fry for about 5 minutes or until softened, then add the sausage until lightly browned, stirring regularly.

2) Add the tomato puree and rosemary to the pan, fry for a minute then add a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta water to loosen, then pour in the milk and stock, bring to the boil.

Pre-heat oven to 200o.

3) Drain the pasta and add to the pan, season to taste, then transfer into a dish large enough to hold it all!

4) Top with the grated cheese and scatter over the cherry tomatoes. Put in the oven, near the top and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden, bubbling and crispy.

When cooked and all lovely looking, serve with buttered green vegetables:

Enjoy! Its a real crowd pleasing family meal and proper comfort food!

As my pasta bake had three vegetables in it, along with on the side I am sending my dish over to this months Extra Veg Challenge - being hosted by Jo's Kitchen, which was originally set up by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Crispy Omelette Spaghetti

Sorry for the lack of blogging! After my kitchen disaster on Mother's Day involving my left index finger and my chef's knife, cooking, and typing is a bit more challenging than usual! Its healing nicely, the dressing was changed yesterday but its still having to be dressed, and all cooking involves CSI gloves! Its made our menu planning also a bit of a challenge as stuff I cook, my boyfriend doesn't know and so we have been having lots of quick, simple dinners. Also it blew out my food budgeting, we have spent roughly a third more than normal and April will be frugal month!

Making the most of our leftovers started today! Over the past few months we have pushing the traditional English breakfast boundaries and exploring other continents and cuisines.. my love of cooking everything and anything, a fabulous friend and her cooking skills and my boyfriend coming around to the idea of not having cheerios in his bowl for breakfast has resulted in some pretty epic breakfasts! Our overall favourite to date involved fried eggs, avocado and Filipino style fried rice but we are also very open to new breakfasts too!

This morning we had leftover cooked spaghetti, from last nights dinner (Creamy sausage and squash spaghetti) and I wondered if we could peruse another new breakfast with it! After a rummage in the fridge, I decided to make an omelette style mixture, add a little garlic as to be honest our breakfasts would not feel right without it nowadays and overall it was a resounding success! Its definitely a new base recipe to add to memory!

I admittedly used a cheat item for the topping - ready fried crispy onions! They give such a lovely savoury note to dishes and are soooo tasty! A definite cupboard cheat ingredient! B gave this breakfast a 7 out of 10 - nothing will beat the fried rice but it was a good 7! 

Serves Two

225g cooked spaghetti
2 large eggs
25g grated cheddar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
knob butter
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp crispy onions

Optional - hot sauce to serve


Heat the butter in a non stick frying pan, add the white part of the spring onion, tomatoes and garlic, Saute for 2 minutes, turning regularly. Slice up the spaghetti roughly and add to the pan, breaking up with a wooden spatula.Fry for about 3 minutes or until lightly golden coloured.

Beat the eggs and cheese together, season with a little salt and pepper. Make the spaghetti mixture into a layer of sorts in the pan, and pour over the eggy mixture evenly. Allow to cook for at least a minute, then gently fold the mixture in on itself, slowly, allowing it to cook through and brown a little for a few minutes.

Spoon into warmed bowls, in the empty pan warm the crispy onions and green part of the spring onions for 30 seconds before sprinkling over the spaghetti mixture.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Eight Of my Favourite Things

OMG as the teens would say - today my little food blog turns eight! Eight! How on earth did that happen? What originally started as a way to find an easier way to share recipes with family and friends, I started realising that people were actually looking at my blog and now here I am, eight years later still writing up recipes but now with pictures and actual text and joining in all sorts of blogging challenges for all sorts of foods with people all over the world! I love finding new recipes and making them, I think that remains my main reason to keep on blogging! I've also had such amazing opportunities along the way and met some great people, and mainly ate some amazing food!

So much has changed for me personally during my eight years of blogging, I've moved house erm four times, changed jobs five times, went through a nasty bout of depression, went back to college, cancelled an engagement, fell in love with someone new, got pretty unwell, developed chronic pain, lost loved ones and also lost but gained new friends - some through my love of food and blogging! The food blogging community has grown so fast during this time I have struggled to keep up sometimes but we are all individuals and I think the more the merrier! Stumbling across a like minded person always makes me feel that little bit less alone too!

Blogging has become a real hobby to the point pretty much everyone knows I am a food blogger now, and I love learning new recipes from the fellow food blogging community and whilst I am not overly happy with my blog design, and a million times a year I think of changing it I just can't quite do it. I have bought several domains over the years and then pulled the plug I just can't seem to commit to it, I suppose I am quite sentimental and I am not too good with change but this might just be the year it happens...!

I spent all week trying to decide how to celebrate as such, spurred on by the lovely Camilla who blogs at Fab Food 4 All - who turned 3 this week too! In the end I went the '8' theme and took it from there really! In eight years I've managed a slightly scary 591 blog posts, scaling down to my favourites was very hard, especially as some of the older, and loved recipes have some ghastly photo's long before my DSLR (that I still don't really quite know how to master!) and put it out to vote to my boyfriend in the end combined with new skills I have also learned along the way!

So that was four of my favourite new skills I learned in the eight years- working with different dough's including wholemeal flours, baking with soured cream (its amazing, weirdly!) and surprisingly time consuming but delicate macarons, which added a whole new meaning to the term having patience!

My final four took a bit more thought - what four things have inspired me or kept me going during my blogging journey? It was actually the hardest part of this post!

First, well technically fifth is definitely one of the main blogging challenges I participate in - The Monday Meal plan hosted by At Home with Mrs M - which happily feeds my planning geek side when faced with doubtful looks from colleagues who discovered I did this recently... meal planning keeps me sane, cuts food waste and even occasionally prompts me to write an accurate shopping list!

Next up is most definitely a recipe we have fondly in our hearts - a gorgeous Banana Bundt from the fabulous blog Asian in America - it plays host to those sad, neglected bananas and gives you a lush, bananary cake that works well from breakfast through to pudding! The blog host is such a lovely lady too and finding her blog was a good day and recipes like these keep me inspired!

So onto number 7 - decisions decisions! I decided to keep it simple - afterall what is the most important meal of the day? Breakfast of course! I am not a cereal kinda gal... and this is the boss of breakfast! This was a combined meal of my favourite foods from my favourite people! Garlic and soya sauce fried rice - taught by one of my best friends who is from the Phillipines, runny fried eggs as they are my boyfriends favourite and one of my favourite veggies - the superfood Avocado, the toasted sesame seeds simply completed the breakfast feast!

Last but by no means least - if I hadn't of stumbled into blogging, discovered new communities, not just food related but also of life - and after all food to me is my life - its brought me joy when its been in abundance, challenging when less so, and I love constantly discovering and learning new things and I want to thank every one who has inspired me, taught me to love again, stuck by me through the less than great times - I know I've not been the easiest of persons to be with - but I am sure I made it through because of every single one of you! Its a big old world out there - thanks for being part of it. I can't choose just one image to finalise this post and these are all my favourite things:

Cheers to another eight years!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Courgette and Mozzarella Piadina

This recipe is one that's been loitering for the past few months - I think I made it even last year but had for some unknown reason not blogged it! The original recipe was taken from a Waitrose freebie magazine, no idea which one though as it was torn out a few months back! I've since made it a couple of times, changing the fillings each time and the base piadina is so easy to make its a handy standby!

Piadina meant absolutely nothing to me prior to making this but fortunately the picture helped to show us a nice, neat bread kind of thing stuffed with nice things. Frying bread is not something I regularly dabble in but I have made the odd doughy thing over the years that way.. and as our oven, is well temperately challenged and this recipe appealed as it didn’t involve it at all!

The piadina were fairly quick and easy to make and assemble, though having a second pair of hands also helps! Also reading the recipe from start to finish… Probably the best way of describing it is that its a cross between a pizza and pitta bread ! I didn't quite fully understand some of the instructions in the original recipe and I have changed it to how it worked for us. 

Serves two:

2 courgettes
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small garlic, crushed
½ red chilli finely chopped
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
250g self raising flour
125g mozzarella, drained. Torn into small chunks
20 basil leaves
Spray oil

Cut the courgette length ways into thin slices. Heat a frying pan and gently saute the courgettes until softened and golden. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, garlic, chilli and lemon zest, season to taste.

Meanwhile place the flour in a large bowl, a pinch of salt and stir in 6-7 tbsp of cold water. Use a fork to mix it in and bring it together, then knead lightly until you have a soft dough.

Divide into two balls, lightly flour the worktop and roll out to form an 18 cm circle. Repeat with the other ball.

Heat a large heavy based frying pan, spray with oil and place on of dough circles. Gently fry on both sides, greasing as needed for 2-3 minutes or until lightly risen. Remove from the pan and repeat with the other circle. If the pan gets too hot just remove for little bursts to stop it burning.

With the removed circle, carefully use a sharp bread knife to make a large pocket, fill with half the courgette mixture, chunks of mozzarella and basil leaves. Repeat with the other one. Return to the pan, place a heavy saucepan on top to weigh it down and cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until cooked and lightly golden. Repeat with remaining piadina.

Slice into quarters and serve with a nice dressed salad and sauteed tomatoes.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Meal Planning Monday and Embracing Happiness

Since posting the last recipe, last Tuesday I had planned to write another up for you but the evenings ran away with us and with getting ready for Mother's Day, it seemed there was little internet time! I am also trying to not go the internet as much, as I think its far too easy to sit and play on my phone or iPad and not actually communicating with those around me, which is both a little bit rude and not always very productive either!

We don't really get enough time on earth and having human contact is a basic necessity, not a luxury for happier living. So I am trying to be a little more conscious of my loved ones and also shake of the blues that have hung around my moods, for far too long really, though I suspect one of my meds is also part of the cause, something I am slowly adjusting... I think I am also rather pessimistic which doesn't help! One of the tools I am using to try and erode the pessimism is something called Embrace Happy - you can read more about it here on Karins' fabulous website! Every day (well mostly!) I list 3 things that have made me happy - big and small things. I will keep you updated accordingly! Also a big shout out to the wonderful Embrace Happy facebook group - you have all pulled me through the less happier times!

So yesterday was Mother's Day - I am fortunate to have a loving, supportive mum who I cherish, and also a close aunt who is second mummy! Sadly though both my mum and 2nd mum no longer have their mums with us, both who I also miss dearly and we made our way to the crematorium yesterday to pay our respects with prayers and pretty flowers. Nan L loved freesias, and whilst I had left it a bit last minute I managed to luckily find a bouquet with some pink freesias in! We also said prayers for my boyfriends gran, who we also sadly lost earlier this year. 

However it wasn't at all a sad day - okay there was minor sniffles but I remembered everything we cherished about our lost loved ones, and also was thoroughly reminded how lucky I am to still have loved ones in my life - our flat is tiny but we squeezed 7 in our lounge yesterday and we had roast lamb with all the trimmings, then tiramisu, chocolate orange gateaux, a box of ferrero rocher and my home made Sticky orange, almond and honey cake - oh and we started with a mountain of cheesy nachos, cocktail sausages baked in honey and sesame seeds-which were devoured super fast too! It was a joy to host a houseful, even though it was a juggle between chairs, footstall's and the floor but I wouldn't change a thing - yes nothing matched, and we had to wash one plate up before a later guest could eat but material things don't matter - the love in the room cannot be bought, and that's why it was perfect. Nothings better than a room full of genuine laughter!

Sticky Orange, almond and Honey Cake
We stuck mostly to last weeks plan and had some really great dishes - the sweet potato bean bake thingy came out as one of the surprise highlights!

So this week, cooking is going to be challenging - unfortunately whilst rushing around yesterday getting the food ready yesterday... I also managed to badly slice my index finger, so typing is extra fun at the moment, yet alone preparing food for the next few weeks! I have put together a rough plan, which is a bit more simple as my lovely boyfriend will be doing the majority of it!

Garlic Sausage noodles 
Pork & Aubergine fajitas, rice n beans 
Veggie burgers, Cavolo nero and sweet potato wedges
Sweet chilli grilled Salmon, bubble n squeak 
Bacon and Butternut squash Mac n Cheese 

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